Yuka Ogata, the Japanese councilwoman forced out of the assembly hall after bringing her baby last year, was again kicked out of a plenary session for sucking a cough drop while speaking.
The incident last Friday had council members in Kumamoto, southern Japan deliberating over an appropriate punishment for eight hours, while the actual meeting was estimated to last for only two hours.
Ogata was speaking at the podium when Shinya Kutsuki, chairman of the council, took notice that she had something in her mouth.
When asked, Ogata explained that she was having a cold, so she sucked a lozenge to control her coughing.
However, council members found Ogata’s cough drop so disruptive that they had to form an ad hoc Disciplinary Special Committee, which then held an eight-hour meeting to discuss repercussions for her actions.
The committee determined that Ogata must read an apology that it composed, but when she refused — saying that she did not want a statement that someone else wrote — council members motioned and succeeded to remove her for the rest of the day.
Eating and drinking are not explicitly prohibited in the chamber, but council members argued that Ogata’s behavior had damaged their integrity.
Kumamoto City Mayor Kazufumi Onishi, who was present, also spoke out against Ogata.
“It’s unacceptable for a member of adult society to use cough drops during such proceedings,” Japanese outlet Sankei quoted Onishi as saying. “She needs to admit her wrongdoing.”
In response, Ogata pointed out that it was all part of a “struggle” that she has been having with other council members.
“A lot of the people have misunderstood this as an issue related to my behaviour, which is how it has been reported in the media,” the councilwoman told the Guardian. “This is part of a struggle between me and other councillors, most of whom are older men, to make the council more relevant to the everyday lives of ordinary people.”
Back in November, the same council threw Ogata out of another meeting after bringing her then seven-month-old son to work. She believes that the incident subjected her to harsher treatment from colleagues.
“They felt bad that their outdated attitudes had been exposed and criticized in public. Ever since then, they have tried to portray me as someone who behaves selfishly and unreasonably,” she said.
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